“You’re pregnant, again?!”

“You two need to get cable.”

“You know what causes that, right?”

“What are you going to do?!”

And then sometimes you really do get the sincerely genuine, “Congratulations! Children are such a blessing!”

But most of the time it’s a comment accompanied with a look of pity. It probably has to do with the look of exhaustion I wear daily—it doesn’t really blend well with the Mac concealer.

Yes. I am pregnant with baby number four. Now that I’m etching past the 12 week mark and the first trimester of exhaustion and nausea, the reality of what I am about to embark upon is overwhelming. It wasn’t “supposed” to happen for another year. I needed to finish grad school. My oldest is just entering pre-k and is not even four years old yet. I thought I’d have more time to prepare…as best as one prepares for four small children.

It seems like the female reproductive system is such a commonly discussed topic among media outlets and politicians. I’ve read so many blogs that talk about what we should and should not talk about with one another. But as more people discover our news, I feel like I have to have some type of stance as to why I am choosing to be so open to life. I may not seem very convincing in person because I am just so tired. 

This week I had my new students read my short story, “The Liver Philosophy”. The moral of the story is to do what is right for you, even if no one else gets it. I had my students write a summary of what they felt it meant and quite a few of them wrote about some of their own choices that they are willing to be a “Liver” for. It was both insightful and inspiring. What moved me more is that I had forgotten to live out the very words I had once wrote!

I know that having a large family is not what everyone desires. I know that being open to “God’s will” is very open to interpretation. I also know that I am not one to judge other people’s choices, as long as they can respect mine.

I don’t know what I am going to do. My motto is that I tend to take life 50 minutes at a time. It’s the teacher in me. Every time the bell rings, a new class begins and anything and everything can change. It carries over into my home life. A meltdown one moment can lead to giggles the next.

Having my children so close together is hard. I’m really finally admitting it out loud. Maybe that’s one of the reasons you have to be open to God to have bigger families. You have to pray a lot for your sanity and you also have to admit that you need other people. It’s a hard thing to do when you have a lot of pride and you were once so independent, but then you look around and you see that you have a real family and real friends who live and celebrate this one life with you.

I sometimes question if I’m making the right choice, but then today happens. After a chaotic day, my three boys will be so sweet. And we do something random like “chase the sun”, which involves driving down an open highway to watch the gorgeous sunset while listening to The Postal Service. And they talk to one another like brothers do and say in an almost synchronized, rehearsed manner, “Good night, Sun,” to the melody of how we read, “Good Night Moon.” And I think, Yes. I can have another. I will survive thrive.

See you in February Baby Bou:)

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A toast

As a writer, I’ve come to understand the reality of cliches. As a writer, you try to stay away from them. However, there’s a reason situations become a cliche–there’s some truth to them. That’s how I felt the week before my wedding. One. Big. Cliche. I was a stressed-out-bridezilla.

There are so many meticulous details that require your attention. I am grateful that by the time I made it to the rehearsal dinner everything seemed to slow back to a normal pace. The night before the rehearsal, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about how much my life had changed over the past year. I guess falling in love will do that to you. I realized as I was tossing and turning that I would have one moment to commemorate my feelings about Jon to our families. So after a tear-jerking speech from my maid of honor, this is what I came up with.

“There are different ways I have tried to describe Jon and I’s relationship. What I love about our dynamic is that I wasn’t a damsel in distress and he didn’t have to be a knight in shining armor. It’s more like a Wizard of Oz scenario. I’m Dorothy and he’s my Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion all rolled into one. We only needed to find one another to find our way home. But please don’t look at it from the other way. Then I’d be lost and he would have no brain, no heart, and no courage. That’s absolutely not true because we are here today.

On a serious note, I’d like to point out how incredible this moment is. Some people never get to experience this–being surrounded by family and friends. Life is short and these are the moments that matter. We try to define life: understand it and label it the best we can. I’ve tried to label myself as a few things: a writer, a teacher, a liver…But there is always one thing I have strived to be and that is, faithful. As of tomorrow I will be putting my faith into Jon and I and to this family. Because I think there is one thing we can all agree on and that is, ‘There is no place like home.'”

Now the toast was in the moment, so it probably came out a tad differently. Regardless, I wanted to remember a fraction of what I said because as I learned during the reception, the months of planning become a complete blur of six hours. All I know is that the next phase is sure to keep me guessing. It really will be domesticated training wheels…Cheers!!!

The preamble to proposal

This was something I wrote a few months ago when Jon and I first returned from Oregon. It’s remarkable how things grow:)

MARRIAGE TALK

We have now talked about marrying one another more so than I have with any other suiter….combined.

This morning we discussed what weddings meant to both of us while nibbling on an egg and cheese omelet that he overcooked in one of my great grandma’s thirty-year-old pots. The subject first came up during our drive back from Oregon. We were rounding a curve outside of Astoria when he mentioned that his stepfather asked if I were the last girlfriend he was ever going to bring home. He said he replied that he, “hoped so.”

That was an emotional first for me. I respected the fact that he pointed out that we don’t know what the future brings, but that it would be a cruel joke of the universe if we weren’t to work out. However, I’ve never really had anyone say that they wanted to spend their life with me. Any doubt I had prior to that moment seemed to disappear and the hopefulness has yet to wear off.

Most of my doubts were caused by initial fear of our differences. But as I allowed myself to not necessarily be “right” and I remained as nonjudgmental as possible, he grew to be something I never expected.

Both of us have been exposed to  fast-paced marriage traditions. His mother met his stepfather online and then he moved from Germany after several meetings to marry her. Not only did I just witness the whirl wind romance with my sister Meggan, but it turns out my father’s parents met and wed fairly quick as well.

The kicker: the couple who introduced us only dated for a few months and then were married. Seven years later, they are still such a strong model of love that lasts. I know that he and I both take the commitment pretty seriously and I can’t even believe that the discussion resurfaced again as we cooked for the first time in my home.

While cooking turkey fajitas, he told me that my father had stopped by the shop that afternoon to pick something up. Ronnie, his uncle,  told him later that his “father-in-law” had stopped by. At first Jon was confused, but then once the connection was made, he laughed.

I reveled silently, as to not make any assumptions. Hmmm. Most guys would not even retell that story due to it’s nature. He could easily have not told me at all, but part of him wanted me to know that they joke on that level. I was about to tip my head to overanalyzation, when he made the comment that the thought of marrying me wasn’t scary.

What?

I knew the thought was mutual for me. I mean who wouldn’t want to marry me? Turns out, quite a few. But could it be that there is someone actually really right for me? Or was I just starting to like the idea that he felt that way?

Stop overanalyzing.

When I listen to my heart, and more than just the accelerated beating pace when he touches me with his any part of his being, I feel a sense of security that I have longed for. He has seen my whole family, my whole history, my whole self, and yet he embraces the future.

Maybe we just both wanted to find one another. He had once said over the phone, “could this be it?”.

I was starting to reflect the possibility with each passing day. I felt more vibrant, yet I no longer had this drive. Most people would say the drive is what was to make me. But what they never saw behind closed doors was that same force drove me to self destruction.

With him, I face my insecurities and welcome the challenges in a much more peaceful manner. And I say to myself that as long as we can move forward through a few phases of our life, then maybe this can lead to our mystery ceremony.

Tradition versus Elise.

I am open-minded and accepting, but I am still a Cajun. And a Cancer at that! Home and family is a big part of me. So when it comes to ceremonies, I still want to be a part of what everyone else has done. But then there is a part of me that says “Change it up!”

While I sat in St. Joseph’s church (which is now just two blocks away from my house) for Meggan’s wedding rehearsal, my father made the comment that he wouldn’t have to worry about this hoo-rah for me, because I would probably have everyone outside, barefoot in a field somewhere.

I laughed because I saw its plausibility, but then told him I couldn’t specifically say because I did not know who my groom would be. He replied that he would, “probably be some moon martian just like you.”

Moon martian. Great.

So maybe I should embark upon something out of this world. It’s funny that finding something steadily comfortable is what will take me to such great heights.

But I wouldn’t make any bets yet. It’s still the honeymoon. And we’re still just talking jibberish over omelets. I would be lying though, if I said I wouldn’t be terribly hurt if these thoughts ever got scrambled.

Faith, my dear. Faith.

Saintly Faith

I wrote a few entries ago about how I’m trying to understand my own version of faith. There are a few recent situations that have caused maturation in this process.

The first occurred on December 7, 2009 when my second niece, Catherine Grace Marcotte, was born.

My sister Meggan was diagnosed on October 10 (our deceased grandmother’s birthday) with the news that she was a high-risk pregnancy case. She had very little–if not, zero—ambiotic fluid in her womb. She would have to be on extreme bed rest and if she reached 24 weeks, she would be admitted into the hospital for monitoring.

Well she did make it to 24 weeks. In fact she made it all the way to 27 weeks before she went into labor.

Catherine was born around sunrise on the morning of our great-grandmother’s 94th birthday. The 2.5 pound miracle was  immediately admitted to the NICU.

During Meggan’s recovery, her high-risk doctor told us just how miraculous Catherine’s birth was. She said she had never been so impressed with a little baby. With how little fluid Meggan had, the fact that Catherine came out so strong and healthy was amazing.

I still have yet to see Catherine. She is still in the NICU and now weighs 4.1 pounds. She was taken off of the oxygen tube just two days ago. At this rate, she will be home in a month.

I know these kinds of births happen often. But when you witness the preciousness of life first-hand, it makes you wonder just how delicate things are pieced together. It really wowed me as to how so many people from Rayne prayed for Meggan and supported them through this difficult phase.  It was a beauty to witness.

On an almost completely different plane, the New Orleans Saints have proven the longevity of the fruition process of faith.

After 40 years, they have finally won an NFC Championship and are headed to their first Super Bowl.

The fans have formed such a bond of unity during this season. I work at a restaurant on Sunday mornings and the vibe was so energetic. To see elderly ladies pulling for the Black & Gold gridiron was a spectacular site.

For the past few months, all you hear is “Who DAT!”. And I live in Lafayette, two hours from the Crescent City.

But Saints fans have existed through all 40 years of shotty seasons, yet they are still ever present and faithful to their patrons.

I feel this is a movement for Louisiana. After devastating hurricanes (Katrina and RITA), we are still here. Happy. Prospering. Even if the rest of the nation can’t see it.

Don’t you think it’s interesting that Yahoo.com released a poll on the happiest states and Louisiana ranked #1?

The media likes to play out devastation, and yes they did highlight the humanitarian acts of people going on air boats to help victims in the 9th Ward, but how much have they focused on the aspect of rebuilding?

George Clooney commented on the Haiti telethon yesterday that we should still donate money over the next few months to help rebuild the country. I totally agree, but what I want to know is how much coverage will still be allotted to the effort? How long before even that is old news?

The point is that many people still focused on all of the negative aspects from the levees breaking. What the media failed to emphasize was that a few weeks later, Hurricane Rita wreaked more havoc on the other side of our state. My sister who just gave birth lived in a FEMA trailer for months while she attended McNeese State University because she lost everything in her apartment in Lake Charles.

That wasn’t shown. It doesn’t really matter to the people here. We just rebuild and have faith that we will make it through. And have a great time while we do it.

I’m starting to see that whatever you have faith in, comes to fruition. It may take 40 years, but it happens. It happens faster in numbers, too.

Maybe we should take notice of what people really put their faith into. It could be an interesting outcome.

Drifting through memories

I have sat in a cubicle for four months. Like the song “Little Boxes” on “Weeds,” I feel like I’m made of ticky-tacky and we all look just the same.

I have drafts for three children’s books. I have more ideas than time to make any of them happen.

And somewhere in the Internet, I am drifting to Eugene.  I am somewhere on I-5 awaiting an epic party, still reveling my time in Portland.

I have had so much trouble finishing the tales of my road trip through the west. I have issues accepting when certain phases are over. But somehow, I have managed to bring Portland to me.

I feel I am ready to complete the first portion of my blog. I didn’t make it to Canada. Instead, I chose security, which defeats the concept of a path unknown.

While I stand at the copy machine, I am at war with my inner conscience. I feel like a sellout, however, the responsible side knows this is what I had to do to pay the bills for a little while. This is not forever.

By finishing this adventure online, it will be time to embark upon a new one here in Louisiana.

I never thought I would have an unknown path at home, but alas, I do. It is a trail I have yet to explore.

I plan to share it here. No longer will I drift nowhere. My current has a purpose, even if I don’t know what it means yet.

That’s the new concept for me; faith.  I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but that’s where the journey comes in. Through my stories, I hope to grasp and share the understanding. I just know for the first time in my life I absolutely know in my heart I am exactly where I need to be. It is not where I expected. It rarely ever is.

So now, it’s onward to Eugene. Who’s coming with me?

Still alive(r)

The last few weeks have been beyond hectic. Once we hit Portland, my internal journey twisted and the pace reached new heights. I intend to include some details about my favorite spots in Portland, Eugene (OR),  and Fort Collins, Colorado.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m writing this from home. I returned to a scorching hot Louisiana two weeks ago in order to prepare for my sister’s wedding. Needless to say, among trying to relax, catching up on sleep, preparing for a wedding, and figuring out what to do next, writing has been a challenge.

The Internet at my roommate’s (parents) house is not what I am used to. There is no Wi-Fi in Rayne, LA. I may have to go pose as a traveler at the Best Western.

I will post some interesting pieces soon. As for now, I’m preparing for Canada. I have already traveled almost 7,000 miles this summer and that number will double after this next trip.

I’m just trying to muster up some creative flow in this vortex of home. It almost seems like I never left. I swear this state does that to you. I guess it’s like that for everyone.

California here we come…

The drive from Vegas to L.A. is quite miserable. The Mojave desert is not very enticing. The best part about the drive was the pit stop in Baker at Mad Greek, a terrific little authentic restaurant.

I got a gyro salad that could have fed the cast of my Big Fat Greek Wedding. In fact, the whole place had the appeal of Dancing Zorbas, equipped with statues. It almost felt like I was in a dream mirage. The tastiness felt real to me though.

We arrived in Rancho Cucamungo, a suburb south of L.A., mid-afternoon. Nick’s aunt Linda and uncle Steve agreed to take us in for a few days. We chatted a bit about Vegas and the drive and before I knew it, I passed out in a chair for almost two hours.

I couldn’t believe how tired I was. Aunt Linda explained to me that she is the same way after Vegas. You don’t realize how much it zaps you…and then the dismal drive doesn’t help either.

Aunt Linda and I talked a lot that night. She and her husband have traveled all over the western part of the U.S. So far, the one city I wish we would have stopped to see was Sedona, AZ. If you would hear how she explained it, you would know why. It seems more magical than Santa Fe.

We ate dinner–a homemade Greek schmorgizborg–then watched Catch and Release. It was a perfect follow-up after Vegas. Relaxing.

Vegas. Day 2

SO I woke up and tried to remove the stick from my derriere and thought to myself, “I’m in Vegas, let’s have some fun.”

Fun turned into us eating breakfast at McDonald’s because that was the cheapest place in our hotel. For $3 I got coffee, a parfait and apples. Not too bad.

We didn’t wake until after noon, so we showered and decided to go meet Nick’s uncle Edgar at the Gold Coast. Casinos really do crack me up. These people just sit there and pull handles or poke at buttons while these multi-colored bright lights shine on their faces and all you hear are clanks and bells and bad karaoke. You smell stale cigarettes, desperation and bulky buffets.

Oh yeah, didn’t I say I was supposed to remove the stick?

Well, we walked through the casino to one of the little bars where this jazz band was playing. They were actually pretty good. Of course there were Sinatra covers followed by salsa music. Uncle Edgar stuck out from the crowd, his white hair and regal demeanor commanding attention.

Nick and I watched him guide his dance partner–we assumed it to be Clara–around the wood-grain floor. He looked so happy. They all did.

It made me wonder about retirement. So many of the couples here seemed to be celebrating the end of their life in style. Edgar had told us about how the majority of them meet once a week for dancing and most of them frequent the shows and casinos around town. I’m used to elderly people in South Louisiana who retire with their grandkids. It was refreshing to see older people push it until the end.

Me, Nick, Edgar and his partner, who did in fact turn out to be Clara, went to the Cortez Room for dinner right at 5 p.m. I thought it was going to be one of those buffet lines, but it turned out to be a very hoity-toity spot.

We started with wine and bread. Nick ordered a 22 oz. Prime Rib and I the pistachio-crusted salmon. The food was exquisite but the company was better.

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Clara and I talked about her time when she was younger and she lived in Germany for two months. She was originally from Tyler, Texas, but had moved to California. She had been all over the world. We talked about hopes and dreams and the future. For some reason, I was spot-on with my jokes and quick wit. We couldn’t stop laughing. She ended up introducing me to her friends and I took her number down so I could call her if I was ever in Vegas again.

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We all hugged at the end of the meal and sadly parted ways. Nick and I headed back to the Excalibur to wait for Derek to get in. I played video poker while Nick watched a soccer game in one of the bars. There were actually very talented singers performing classic karaoke favorites as the background music.

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Finally Derek arrived. We hugged and he looked around with a hint of disdain on his face. I empathized his expression and we laughed about the irony of us both being there. The three of us decided to stroll through the Strip, but not before getting those annoyingly big daquiris from Dick’s.

So for anyone who has never been to a Dick’s Last Resort, it’s a restaurant where the servers get paid to be complete assholes. The guy who checked our id’s made a comment about Louisiana being white trash. We laughed about it, but thought of how many people from home would have probably hit him, which made it even funnier.

We wandered around looking for something to do. Nick’s goal was to see the dealertainers at the Emperial Palace. The blackjack dealers are impersonators and transition from singing to dealing.

We found our way there, paid $11 for a pack of Camel lights and watched Nick lose $40 to Toby Keith. The Tina Turner-a-like was actually damn good. It was pretty dealertaining.

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We then walked to this other Irish casino where more karaoke prevailed. The first girl we hear was from Louisiana and singing my anthem, “Bobby Mcgee”. She turned out to be from Marksville but now lives in Vegas.

We then walked to the Bellagio to wait for the fountain display. This was by far the nicest casino we went to. The colors were soothing and it seemed so classy. I tried to put $10 in a machine that I thought was the one that was going to help me make it rich, but it turned out to be broken and I had to get a clerk to give me my $10 back. We walked through the lobby that had the most amazing glass artwork, and then made it outside for the infamous fountain show.

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My stomach started to hurt, probably from the mixture of salmon, Jack Daniels, and 190. Derek wasn’t feeling the Strip either, so we got some water and cheez its from Walgreens and went back to hotel room.

I really can’t capture the essence of the conversation that took place between the three of us, but I will say the discussion was our whole purpose of going to Vegas.

Derek and I have devised a plan to put together a documentary geared towards third graders through middle schoolers that presents both the history of Cajun culture and current day youth who still live it. When kids think of history, they think of really old people who dance at Randoll’s (a local Cajun restaurant in Lafayette). But there is a whole generation of young Cajuns who live out the culture everyday.

We are now working on a proposal to find funds to go to Canada to do some research and also document some of these college students who are participating in pertinent events to Cajun culture, such as the Festival d’été de Val-d’Or in Quebec City and Congres Mondial Acadien in New Brunswick.

We will have to work fast, but I haven’t been so motivated in quite some time. This is the perfect project for both of us and we are both needing something of this caliber in our lives…appropriately devised at the Excalibur.

We finally all feel asleep after 3a.m. and Derek was headed to Yosemite by 7a.m. Nick and I were going to get massages before we left, but opted to head straight to California. Our time was up in Vegas. We didn’t win money to cover the trip like we had hoped, but the information exchanged at this site will bring us the ingenuity to fund our lives. Or so I hope.

Vegas wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I needed. And so it follows the theme of the trip.

The journey continues to Nevada

We started our venture towards Nevada with breakfast at Brandy’s. Evidently Guy from the road house diner show on Food Network did a story on it in Flagstaff. I had the most delicious vegetable omelet…I mean chunks of fresh broccoli, mushrooms and tomatoes. I couldn’t resist the oats pancake that had this savory apple cinnamon mush on top of it. An English muffin was included, but damn I had no room left in my tummy.

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I’m glad we filled up though because there was nothing but rolling desert hills after Flagstaff. The wind is horrible for your car too. There is nothing to block it and it becomes somewhat of a challenge to stay straight at times. Louis has these sun visors on the windows and the shaking becomes an annoyance quite often;  almost as aggravating as Tammy’s voice…but not quite.

We noticed the front bumper of Louis had come off on the passenger side when we had arrived in Flagstaff. At first, I thought someone had hit me in a parking lot. But we soon realized it was from the viscous wind (turns out my theory that Louis could fly was wrong).

We stopped at this rinky-dink gas station/restaurant about an hour from the Hoover Dam to grab some water (because it got HOT in the desert) and check on Louis’ bumper. I remembered I had some duct tape in my glove compartment from my second mother, Tammye (not our Tom Tom).

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For graduation she gave me this bag full of important items with a note explaining their meaning. It included duct tape and two packs of gum, well because MacGeyver used it. I’m glad we had it, because it has held my bumper together for three states.

An interesting note about the little shop where we rigged my Element. There was a license for prostitution dated in the early 1900’s next to the bathroom. Next to it was a picture of this woman bathing in an old barrel. I haven’t really formed an opinion of this observation, but I found it intriguing. Is it good that the whores bathed? Is that what you paid for? Who knows. I didn’t have the heart to ask either.

So onward. We drove for hours in the desert… some more. There was construction outside of the Dam and it took much longer than anticipated to see Hoover. It was worth the wait though. This human construction is amazing. Lake Mead is crystal clear too. It’s the best indication of the natural scene one can expect the further West you drive.

There is also a massive bridge that is going up too. It has architectural wonder…not like the bridges on I-10 that I’m used too. Imagine being able to say you saw the construction of the Golden Gate. It’s that kind of epic. (I would have pictures, but once again, technological woes plague me).

So we crossed the Dam and the state border into Nevada. Vegas was only a blink away.

While I was over this human construct, Derek, a fellow journalist/colleague of mine called. He was on his way to Yosemite. A whimsical, transcendental journey he decided to take a few months ago in order to get out of his shell and test his manhood.

We actually discussed the trip one night at Shaker’s, downtown Lafayette, when I played an acoustic gig. During my break, we kicked back a few and talked life and dreams. He’s an editor for a local weekly newspaper in St. Martinville. We took quite a few classes in college together, including Feature Writing with Buckman, one of the most militant journalism professors known to man (this class was also one that motivated me to quit my job and go back to school full-time and one of the pieces written that semester landed me my initial job as a staff writer for The Vermilion).

The other was Ethics and Sustainable Practice in Environmental Science (or something like that) with Griff, one of the most laid-back, make you reevaluate your current life situation and start a revolution, professors. Somewhere in the middle of these classes, we also took a trip to D.C. for a Society of Professional Journalists national conference where we witnessed Woodward and Bernstein (guys who broke Watergate scandal) and Ken Paulson (editor of USA Today) relate some of the most important professional words of wisdom and motivating philosophies to bring TRUE journalism back to the original roots. Like Paulson said, bring reporters back to Superman and Clark Kent; respectable souls who just want to give the public the TRUTH.

Enough of my backstory/rant. Derek and I had pertinent professional history and both of us are contemplating our future. It was no coincidence to me that he would try to make it to Vegas the next night for us to hang out and discuss our current situations.

Nick and I made it to Vegas around 4p.m. to our destination–The Excalibur. It was a castle on the Strip. I have to say, it was the most appropriate place for me to stay. The movement of Vegas, however, was not what I was in the mood for that first night.

As soon as we walked through the doors with our luggage, staff members in suits were asking us if we had checked in, if we were a couple, and if we got our free gifts. Between the third degree, the lights and constant bells/casino sounds, I felt like I was tripping on mushrooms and had turned into Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas…except without any of the perks.

My mind was swirling and we had to wait in line to check in. I didn’t think it would be very busy on a Tuesday, but this is another one of those cities that does not sleep or rest. There was some confusion between Expedia and the hotel because we arrived a day later than our original reservation. I had to wait on the line for 20 minutes trying to get Expedia to fax the hotel a copy of our itinerary.

Tip: try to stay on track to avoid these types of hassles. And if you can print out your confirmations, do so. Evidently emails on your iPhone aren’t as valid.

Oh yeah, we got haggled by a clerk named Catrina who talked us into giving her $40 cash, which was refundable, once we went on a tour of one of their new properties. In exchange for free breakfast and two hours of our time, we would get free Criss Angel Cirque du Soleil tickets.

Another tip: When you are from Louisiana and a woman named Katrina tries to sale you something, run away fast…there’s a storm brewing.

We changed, ate salads at the MGM casino and then drive to a ritzy retirement home to visit Nick’s 94-year-old great uncle Edgar, a Costa Rican native and a complete Casanova.

We sat and talked for two hours. Nick had only met him once before when he was real young, so Edgar told him a lot of tall tales about their family history. It was kind of like Big Fish. His stories were captivating and his presence, mesmerizing. And I think everything was very true.

He told us of his deceased wife, who he still sighs at the thought of, and his current female companions, who he smiles of. The best line of the century was when he was comparing a current comrade with his wife, who he says the resemblance is uncanny.

“I told her, ‘I wish I would have counted the freckles on my wife’s body. Because if I counted yours, they would be the same!”

He invited us to dinner the next night at the Gold Coast, the casino he still goes dancing every Wednesday. We bid farewell for the night and then decided drinks were necessary.

We found tickets for a free drink at the hotel bar and figured thrifty was the way to go. I had won $15 on our first dollar (which turned out to be the only money I spent on gambling). I used it to get a double bourbon and water. The bartender, who evidently doesn’t get tipped when given coupons (I appreciate my former life as a server and practice good tipping karma). He ended up hooking us up with Jack Daniels instead of well. The drink was stout too. It looked like Coca Cola without the fizz.

We sipped as we walked the Strip. The lights and architecture are a beauty, but when you look around at the people, it loses its valor. The drink was “mamazing” and I was giggly by the time we hit the Bellagio. We waited for the fountain show, but it was already 12:30 and it turns out they stop the display at midnight. I guess it saves cost or energy.

I had an idea at one point that if Vegas could use the energy of people pulling the handles into electricity, they could save a lot of money.

Anyways, Nick’s favorite part of us walking back to the hotel after me drinking a strong adult beverage, was when we passed a man pushing a baby stroller with a toddler, who was completely passed out (like drunk/exhausted passed out—but the kid wasn’t really drunk…at least I hope not). I accidentally yelled “Oh My GOD!”, then realized I said that out loud and clasped my hand over my mouth and followed with a statement behind giggles, “I mean, I’m not judging”.

But I mean come on people. I was already shocked as to how many families and children were on the strip or in casinos in general. If you are going to spend money on a family vacation, shouldn’t you take those kids somewhere more beneficial? To each his own I guess. And I guess I am judging. But there are provocative pictures of both men and women everywhere. It’s not exactly a wholesome environment fit for children. People are constantly passing around cards for personal strippers–even to parents with strollers. This ain’t Disneyland and they shouldn’t see the Australian Thunder from Down Under.

We made it back to the room and I brushed my teeth in judgment, talked to Jesus and Buddha and passed out. I needed a good rest after this exposure. Maybe I’d get off my white horse and join the party the next night.  Or just lighten up.

New Mexico

New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment greeted us with harsh winds, lightening that looked like two wizards were duking out a battle royale on a distant mountain, and rain drops that seemed like they were going to slice through Louis’ windshield. Oh yeah, I named my Element Louis (Lew-ee)…it reminds me of home, he may be given a last name later.

I didn’t think it rained in the desert, but I guess New Mexico wanted to remind me of Louisiana.

We reached Fort Sumner, home of Billy the Kid’s grave site, at around 9p.m. after the time change. Our bodies were still functioning at 10p.m. speed. My younger sister Meggan’s best friend’s parents have a house there. I have to say that sounds like a very Cajun description.

Billy the Kid grave

There is one stop sign in the village of barely 1,000 people. Driving through pitch-black lighting makes you feel straight out of a horror movie. Especially when you pass in front of the sketchy motel. We were later told that the majority of the guests at this inn are NASA scientists who are studying the unexplainable wind tunnels outside of the village.

Mr. Robert and Mrs. Jackie graciously opened the doors to the charming adobe home and even had chicken and sausage gumbo waiting for us when we arrived. We took a tour of the house, which we discovered Mr. Robert actually grew up in, before he moved to Rayne when he was 11 years old. It looked so small from the outside, but it was almost never-ending.

The ceilings were short, but the rooms were much bigger than expected. The furniture was antique and authentic. The couple had been there for the past two weeks cleaning the house. I thought it was an absolute perfect summer home to retreat to.

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We grubbed on the gumbo and then had Biscochito cookies for dessert. They are the state’s cookie and look like mini-biscuits and are lightly sugared with cinnamon. They reminded me of the biscuits my grandma used to bake every Friday morning before school.

We retired for the night only to awake at 8a.m.

We all hopped in the Jeep for a tour of the valley. Mr. Robert’s family has quite a bit of farming property scattered throughout the area. It was so relaxing to drive through the fresh fields of Alfalfa and see random deer and turkey grazing.

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The school is K-12 and only has 300 kids. However, the football team has won the 1A state championship the past three years. The cemeteries there are plots for each family and they reserve the right to do whatever they wish there. The most moving site was for the only soldier from the village who died in Iraq. There were little angel statues, rose bushes and a plaque that read “Peace to all who enter here” all within a 12-foot plot.

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After the tour, we were treated to an authentic New Mexico breakfast at Sadie’s restaurant. We had our first bite of green chile, but it was mixed in omelets. Mr. Robert and Mrs. Jackie had a sauce over their burritos and it was divine.

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The experience was short, but refreshing. It was so endearing to see a couple who has been married for 34 years (there anniversary was last week). You can tell how much they love one another and get along: they call each other “Mom” and “Dad” and can finish one another’s sentences. It reminded me of one of the couple’s from “When Harry Met Sally”. It’s just something you don’t get to see very often these days.

We left Fort Sumner around noon and followed Tammy’s voice to Santa Fe.